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Nightmare Fuel / Music

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Taken a look in your basement lately?

Music is the universal language. What this song says in every language is "RUN AWAY AS FAST AS YOU FUCKING CAN!!!"
YouTube comment on a song from the soundtrack for AKIRA
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Some noises while sleeping wake you up. Some noises while awake make you not sleep right.

For moments from music videos, see the Music Videos page.


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Individual examples:

Each section is in alphabetical order by artist. Before you add examples here, check the index above and make sure the artist doesn't already have their own page.
    Avant-Garde 
  • Prince's title track from 1980's Dirty Mind. Aside from the droning synthesizer bassline at the beginning, it isn't too bad. Then we get to the lyrics, which are unnerving, being about Prince wanting to rape an unapproving woman and having dirty thoughts about her. Then Prince starts repeating his words in a very creepy tone, only to say his final lines in a rather unusually quiet voice: "I don't want to hurt you baby. I only. Want. To. Lay. You... Down..."
  • Pearl Jam closes off Vitalogy with "Hey Foxymophandlemama, That's Me", seven minutes of droning music with looped vocal samples from mental patients on top of it. Its unsettling nature certainly explains why most fans prefer to skip the track.
  • The Pop Group is rather infamous for being Nightmare Fuel Station Attendants with their psychotic fusion of Funk and Noise Rock with Mark Stewart screaming his head off about alienation, genocide and the rise of fascism. Nick Cage describes it as "really violent music for a really violent time."
  • Tin Hat Trio: Their version of "Daisy Bell." Forget HAL9000. This will make you want to scream "RUN, DAISY, RUN! He's gonna lock you in the basement and let you ring a bell as a reward for... something icky!" It's totally stalkeriffic.
  • John Zorn: "Naked City." The songs shift from smooth jazz to grindcore to death metal shredding back to jazz and then all over again within the span of seconds. The entirety of it is punctuated with Yamatsuka Eye making the most terrifying noises he possibly can with his mouth.
  • Wall of Voodoo had a few disturbing songs, especially during the Stan Ridgway era. Their debut EP had "The Passenger," a very urgent piece which appears to be about a terrorist who brings a bomb with him onto plane. It has an abrupt ending, before fading back in with an eerie elevator-music coda.
    • The very last track on the EP is a 55-second instrumental, which frankly sounds like one of the more fucked-up songs from the Silent Hill soundtrack. It consists of a bouncy rhythm track, a whiny droning synth, and a ringing telephone. It fades out as quickly as it fades in. The title of the song? "Granma's House."
    • Another instrumental entitled "Struggle". It comes right after the humorous song "Can't Make Love", in which the narrator expresses his frustration with not being able to get anyone in bed. While "Struggle", with its whirring melody and rhythm section which brings to mind being chased is disturbing enough, near the end, a panicked woman's moaning and gasping can be heard — perhaps the titular struggle, which brings to mind sexual assault. Paired with "Can't Make Love", it could very well be a very dark sequel.
  • Calvin Wilkerson's self-titled album is full of this. From that cover art to "When I Go Up, I Come Down in Slow Motion", it's sure to give anyone a scare.

    Blues/Jazz 
  • Charlie Musselwhite's first recording of "Christo Redemptor" features Barry Goldberg's scarifying organ, Charlie's high and lonesome harmonica, and Harvey Mandel's bleak guitar solo toward the end. The whole work sounds like the soundtrack to the aftermath of a horrible crime scene.
  • Billie Holiday's "Strange Fruit", describing the lynchings of African-Americans in dark, bleak, and sorrowful detail.
    Southern trees bear a strange fruit
    Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
    Black bodies swingin' in the Southern breeze
    Strange fruit hangin' from the poplar trees
    Pastoral scene of the gallant South
    The bulgin' eyes and the twisted mouth
    Scent of magnolias sweet and fresh
    Then the sudden smell of burnin' flesh
    Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck
    For the rain to gather
    For the wind to suck
    For the sun to rot
    For the tree to drop
    Here is a strange and bitter crop...
  • From Miles Davis' Get Up With It, there's "Rated X", with Miles' playing some downright diabolical organ, along with guitar and percussion that keep abruptly cutting in and out of the mix. This is the soundtrack to every sex orgy in Hell.
  • In the multi-genre concept album Time Machine by the French disco/funk duo Résonance, the song "Al Capone's Blues" is set in an old-fashioned stage performance featuring a singing woman and a piano. The song transitions out of this phase to a car chase conclusion with a spatter of gunfire followed by nobody screaming, and the piano player presumably shot and falling to make the final note.
  • Parts of "Om" by John Coltrane. You ever heard a saxophone scream in terror?

    Comedy 
  • Lemon Demon: "Elsewhere." The lyrics aren't all that creepy, but the background instrumentals? They conjure images of evil clowns. Is it any wonder that the same artist composed a track called "Nightmare Fuel"?
    • Once you're done with that, find the Lemon Demon song "Sick Puppy," which is in the same vein but not quite as shiver-inducing.
    • "When He Died" from the later album Spirit Phone is the inverse, with cheerful, almost saccharine instrumentals but creepy lyrics:
      When he died (On a dark and stormy night)
      They telephoned his wife (Who reacted with delight)
      But gradually her voice began to fade to nothing
      And the Laughing Record played
      The Laughing Record played
  • Joe Scruggs' Talking Toybox has an In-Universe case of Nightmare Fuel, that could also qualify as one for viewers until The Reveal. It tells the story of something that made a deep demonic voice saying "Feed Me!" and frightened a sleeping child. It turns out that it was actually a talking baby doll with drained batteries, and once its batteries are changed, it says, "I love you, good night!", which comes off as both Heartwarming and Funny at the same time.
  • Some of Tom Lehrer's songs are pretty chilling. While he's often being deliberately creepy, (what with the notable Mood Dissonance between the jaunty tunes and the horrifying lyrics), and sometimes is so goofy that they become Narm-y, there are times when it's too close to the bone to be as funny:
    • Lehrer stated himself that he now finds the lyrics to "The Old Doper Peddler" "chilling:"
      In the evening, you will find him
      Around our neighborhood
      It's the old dope peddler
      Doing well by doing good.
      He gives the kids free samples,
      Because he knows full well
      That today's young innocent faces
      Will be tomorrow's clientele.
    • Perhaps the most cynical of his jaunty-sounding horror stories are his many takes on The Cold War:
      (From "We Will All Go Together When We Go"): "We will all fry together when we fry/We'll be French fried potatoes by-and-by/There will be no more misery/When the world is our rotisserie/Yes, we all will fry together when we fry!"
    • The Serial Escalation of "Who's Next?"
      (From "Wernher von Braun"): "Some have harsh words for this man of renown/But some think our attitude should be one of gratitude/Like the widows and cripples in old London town/Who owe their large pensions to Wernher von Braun."
    • Tom applies a heady dose of Nightmare Retardant, though. After his jaunty, albeit accurate, summary of "Oedipus Rex:"
      So, be sweet and kind to mother, now and then have a chat
      Buy her candy, or some flowers, or a brand new hat
      But maybe you had better let it go at that.

    Country 
  • Charlie Daniels Band: "The Legend of Wooley Swamp". It's all well and good, a little creepy, until you get to the end and realize that three teenage boys (while admittedly horrible dudes, but still...) are re-living being buried alive again and again for all eternity... Ugh. If you listen to it on a good system, you'll notice that there are bass notes that are more felt than heard. Now try this home alone in a rural location with a storm approaching.
  • Jack Kittel: Try "Psycho", a country song first released by Eddie Noack in 1968, but made famous by Kittel in 1974, and subsequently covered by the Beasts Of Bourbon and Elvis Costello. It details a conversation between a rural serial killer and his mother, in which he confesses his crimes. One memorable line runs ..Seems I was holding a wrench, momma/And my mind just walked away... Bad enough, but the final line is the kicker in which it is revealed that he has already killed his mother and has been talking to her corpse.
  • Hank Williams III: A rare example in country music: the double album Straight To Hell, containing a 42-minute long end track that consists of a hellish pastiche of distorted sounds, ranging from pitch-shifted country songs to field recordings. Interspersed throughout, however, are some rather nice (if a bit "off") songs that detracts from the "WTF factor".
  • Those Poor Bastards: They perform pitch-black horror-themed country with the fervor of fundamentalist backwoods preachers. "John Henry Gonna" spins the all-American legend into something akin to a fearsome youkai myth. "The Dust Storm" is a hair-raising trip down some evil backroads. And their cover of Johnny Cash's "Walk the Line" is a terrifying ode to stalkerism.
  • Hank Snow's obscure 1969 song "The Name of the Game Was Love" probably wasn't intended to be this, but reading between the lyrics reveals far more sinister connotations. In theory, the song is a happy, nostalgic reminiscence of all the girls the narrator has been romantically involved with in his life, with an absolute earworm of a tune and the first verse even sounding similar to the children's nursery rhyme "Five Little Speckled Frogs". Except that list of girls is insanely long, which makes it extremely likely that the narrator is a Casanova who goes out of his way to win the hearts of as many girls as he possibly can before abandoning them and moving on. While the song goes out with the narrator saying he loves them all, it's difficult not to question his sincerity.
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    Folk 
  • There is an entire subgenre of folk/traditional music known variously as freak folk, weird folk, rural gothic or country gothic. This evolved out of the genre best known as Old Weird America note . Lullabyes for dead children, incestuous love, silver daggers, unrequited love, senseless (or all-too-sensible) murder, graveyards, encounters with Death, crazy women wandering the hills, people frozen in various stages of grief....
  • Nicole Dollanganger is a young Canadian singer/songwriter; her music's defining features are her clear, sweet voice, and the dark, raw things that she tends to express using it. A list of songs of hers that feature creepy undertones would be a mile long, but the worst offenders are "Flowers of Flesh and Blood" — named for a Japanese torture porn film— and "Choking Games."
  • Boyd Rice and Friends: "Disneyland Can Wait." A distant-sounding tune scores Boyd's detached spoken word, which juxtaposes Disneyland-themed imagery with images of hell and wartime.
  • Leonard Cohen succeeded in making HONF folk music on Songs of Love and Hate. Listen to "Dress Rehearsal Rag" and "Diamonds in the Mine." There's a reason there's a goth band named after one of this guy's songs.
  • Bro Smith's "Bigfoot" was meant as just another silly 70s novelty song about a monster that was then in-vogue, but the atmosphere the music creates is rather ominous, and the lyrics don't really play the legend for laughs at all. "Lock your doors, board your windows, Bigfoot's on the prowl..."
  • Similar to "Bigfoot" mentioned above is Steve Cook's "The Legend (of Dogman)", a spoken-word piece created for April Fools' Day describing encounters with the titular creature that managed to inspire several Urban Legends of its own. "Don't go out at night" indeed...
  • Giles Corey:
    • His self-titled album could just as well be called Nightmare Fuel: The Album. The album was conceived when sole member Dan Barrett was suicidally depressed, and is built largely around his experiments with a Voor's Head Device, which is a contraption produced by poking just enough holes in a plastic bag to keep yourself from passing out, and then tying it around your head. The opening track contains samples from a recording made while Barrett was passed out, and they are eerie beyond belief. Read the accompanying book for additional terror. It mentions his suicide attempt; a particular source of Fridge Horror is the fact that he still can't explain why he attempted it, but the implication is that his experiments with the device severely affected his mental state to the point where he lost control of himself.
    • The follow-up, Deconstructionist, is ambient music explicitly designed to bring the listener into an altered state of consciousness. It comes with a disclaimer that people with severe mental illnesses probably should not listen to it, probably for obvious reasons. A lot of this is due to the album's almost constant use of binaural beats, which have been known to cause seizures. The overall effect of the album seems to be quite relaxing for most people, but some people have been quite terrified by it.
  • The Deadfly Ensemble: "Horse on the Moor" is definitely this. It begins with the narration of how the "Wife" character rose from her grave, desperate for her husband and declaring that she loves him still. The song itself is about the husband cramming her wife's tomb with several things she enjoyed (such as a horse's head because "his love liked to ride", or one of the maids to "help her under there"). How does it get worse? Easy - the wife doesn't rise back from the dead at all, she was buried alive (as revealed in the final verse).
  • Death In June:
  • Brian Dewan: He wrote a song from the point of view of someone undergoing brain surgery. The idea behind the song is people tend to be awake during brain surgery and poking different parts of the brain causes different thoughts and emotions. The song starts out almost funny, with renditions of Happy Birthday and Yankee Doodle mixed in with random thoughts. Then he starts crowing like a rooster and crying "I want my oxygen mask!" The song descends further and further, and ends with him calling "Mommy?" over and over and over until the listener is curled up in fetal position trying to figure out what they did to deserve this level of Hell.
  • Bob Dylan:
    • "The Man in the Long Black Coat", which might be about a woman going away with the Devil or Death, or just a nice case of Nothing Is Scarier, but something scary happened there. His version is scary), but other artists, such as Joan Osborne, have also covered it to spooky success.
    • "The Ballad of Hollis Brown". A both incredibly sad and incredibly disturbing tale of a poor farmer driven to desperate measures.
  • Jandek: While the entire discography of the eccentric and reclusive folk/blues/who-knows-what musician may qualify as Nightmare Fuel for some, there are many instances in which the man out does himself. Especially when he screams.
  • Nurse With Wound: Anything by them is deeply disturbing on a primal level, whether you understand why or not.
  • Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio:Their Apocalips album which includes Hear The Sound Of The Black Flame Rising, Hell is My Refuge, and other creepy songs.
  • Sol Invictus: They have a variety of incredibly disturbing songs, be they about cannibals or ghosts.
  • Vienna Teng: "Radio" deserves particular mention for its liberal use of natural fears (terrorist attacks), but "Passage", "Pontchartrain", and "Watershed" deserve mention as well.
  • The song "The Dark Man" by Puzzlebox, about the vaguely described and unexplained entity. The creepy music and unsettling lyrics combine to make a song that can be very unnerving to hear.
  • Heather Dale
    • While the lyrics of "Changeling Child" come across more as mournful than as creepy, the melody behind it is pretty haunting. It's especially noticeable at the beginning, before the song has properly started. There's nothing but eerie woodwinds.
    • "Fair Folk" has somewhat eerie music, but what caps it off is the lyrics. The narrator warns the listener not to come to places where faeries might dance after nightfall and advises them to ward off any that come visiting with Cold Iron. In contrast to the common perception of them, this song clearly portrays the uneasiness with which people once regarded The Fair Folk.
  • Omnia's version of 'The Well Below the Valley' (shortened to 'The Well') really ramps up the creepiness of an already disturbing song, and does so in a slow and deliberate manner. It starts off normal and fairly cheerful but then they get to the incest and child murder, maintaining the same tone to let that speak for itself. But when the girl asks the gentleman what will happen to her, the vocals and instrumentation make a sudden shift to deep, dark and ominous. The rest of the song is mostly instrumental but some of it sounds like ghostly children crying in pain. And to top it all off? It ends with a music box rendition of 'Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.'
  • Jim White's "Still Waters" carries a ghostly ambience to it, and the lyrics tell increasingly disturbing stories of encounters that may or may not be supernatural in nature - the narrator shares a bed with a woman who wakes him up to say she saw a ghost before mysteriously disappearing, is beaten bloody by some sailors and curses their ship - which then sinks, and sees an old man crying in the rain while singing before witnessing the same old man, hanged by a rope, later that day...and sings along to the "hymn to Jesus" the rope seems to be singing. The final verse sums things up as a potential metaphor, but a no less disturbing one for the narrator:
    And I just throw myself into the arms of that which would betray me
    I guess to see how far Providence will stoop down just to save me

    Musical Theater/Performance Art 
  • Three Penny Opera. Mob hitman or serial killer? You decide. Lyrical Dissonance at its best/worst.
    On the sidewalk, Oh Sunday morning don't you know
    Lies a body just oozing life
    And Someone's sneaking around the corner
    Could that be our boy Mack the Knife?
  • Circus Contraption:
    • Try listening to "Toy Shop Armagedon" at night in the dark without getting the chills and/or closing the window. Especially when it gets to the middle of the song, and things start to get even more...distorted.
    • "The Slaughter's Promenade" fits in here as well. That. Damn. Crack. Never fails to cause nightmares.
  • Evelyn Evelyn: "Tragic Events of September 1" in which the girls' birth leads to the death of their parents, the doctor, and a passing cop, and Evelyn Evelyn shows how little fun it is being part of a Multiple Head Case.
  • Jesus Christ Superstar: The crucifixion scene from the original cast recording.
  • : The entirety of the soundtrack for this Cirque du Soleil performance. Unlike most of their soundtracks, which are divided between catchy upbeat tunes like "Kunya Sobe" and "Alegría," most of this one is creepy simlish chants and fast-paced drumbeats. "Pursuit" is a particularly nightmare-inducing example.
  • Spring Awakening: "The Dark I Know Well" is a song about sexual abuse, which is as horrific and sad as it sounds. The music is horrendously dissonant, Martha and Ilse's parents cut in with disturbing commentarynote , and the refrain is especially horrible:
    You say all you want is just a kiss goodnight
    And then you hold me and you whisper,
    "Child, the Lord won't mind.
    It's just you and me.
    Child, you're a beauty."
  • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street: "Mea Culpa" is divided between Judge Turpin perving on his teenage adopted daughter and scourging himself in a futile attempt at penance.
  • Tiger Lillies: They mine a rich seam of grotesquerie, Brecht-style cabaret and vile, hilarious depravity. If you're not into them, any song might make you lose sleep, but they can sometimes tweak a scary nerve even for fans. Their latest offering, The Little Match Girl (a nasty tale in itself), has a song mentioning "long golden hair." In the stage version, the Match Girl's father collects her discarded hair, which as he pulls at it proves to be nightmarishly long. Ultimately there is a twisted rope of hair winding back and forth between a series of successively-smaller sets, as the "golden" hair refrain is repeated with greater intensity. And then the Match Girl herself comes back to wind it all up again! Perhaps not that upsetting in itself, but if you've got some sort of anti-hair fetish...

    Pop 
  • The song 1940 by the Submarines is pretty freaky, especially the very beginning 'Something's wrong when you re-gret things that haven't happened yet...'
    Unnamed Creepy Man: The year is one thousand nine hundred and forty... and something... isn't right...
  • The trailer for Halsey's debut album, BADLANDS, manages to pack an incredible amount of unsettling into just under two minutes.
  • a-ha: "Scoundrel Days" sounds energetic and spirited. Then you read the lyrics, which are from the viewpoint of a madman who slits his wrists, rants madly and hallucinates heavily before running around and throwing himself off a cliff in front of his townspeople. Holy Mind Screw and Lyrical Dissonance, Batman.
  • Annie: "The Wedding." The repeating uncanny voices in it can be quite frightening when you are by yourself.
  • Aqua: "Halloween" goes into this category, with its Scream-inspired outro and everything.
  • The Buoys: Humourist Dave Barry's Bad Song Survey turned up an unexpected #4: "Timothy". The Buoys were apparently deliberately trying to record a song so gross they'd be banned and reap lots of free publicity. That they were abetted by Rupert Holmes - the dude responsible for the "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)" - is somehow nightmarish all by itself. The result is a catchy pop tune in which, as Barry notes, "the singer appears to be saying that he...well, that he ate the subject of the song. Really." Then he quotes these lyrics:
    Timothy, Timothy, Joe was lookin' at you
    Timothy, Timothy, God what did we do?
    ...My stomach was full as it could be
    And nobody ever got around to finding Timothy.
  • Jonathan Coulton: "Creepy Doll" is a second person narrative featuring an old house, a "bag of big city money", and a creepy doll that haunts its victims. By the end of the song the protagonist, fed up, locks the doll in the box it came from and throws it onto the fireplace. "As the smoke fills up your tiny room, there's nothing you can do/ Far too late, you see the one inside the box is you..."
    • "Shop Vac" is a weird little song about a miserable life in suburbia, but has a dark undertone that's hard to place the first few times you listen to it. The last verse is creepy and somewhat unhinged by itself:
      And now it's time to go to bed
      I'm still awake inside my bed
      I'm floating up above the house and looking down
      I guess I gotta go back there
      I guess there never was any other answer
      And as the freeway hums, the cars go by
      The headlights roll across the sky
      Many miles away and I can see them speeding through the dark...
    • And that's before you listen more carefully to the news report being muttered during the verse. "A 45 year old man went berserk last night with a shotgun..."
  • Cady Grooves - "This Little Girl" is capable of murder. Because you hurt her.
  • Grace Jones: An upliftingly titled song called "Corporate Cannibal." Sweet dreams.
    • The fourth track off the album/suite "Slave To The Rhythm," entitled "Operattack," responsible for the oft-sampled "Annihilating rhythm" quote. Can you say "Fairlight Overload"?
  • Madonna: "Mer Girl." It is the last song on her Ray Of Light album and definitely closes it on a...somber note, to say the least. The entire song sounds like it could easily fit into a Silent Hill game, and the closing lyrics are a shining example of this trope...
    "And I smelled her burning flesh...
    Her rotting bone...
    Her decay...
    I ran and I ran, I'm still running away..."
  • Sarah McLachlan: "Possession." This song was actually based off the deranged love letters sent to the singer by an obsessive stalker, who eventually sued her for the song content and killed himself later on. The song itself has a creepy gothic tone to it, sounding romantic at first but growing to become more unsettling by the second. The music video, depicting various Christian scenes and McLachlan's body wrapped in cloth and swinging across the screen, is also quite eerie. The chorus? "And I would be the one/ to hold you down/ kiss you so hard/ I take your breath away/ and after I'd/ wipe away the tears/ just close your eyes, dear"
  • The Monkees: "Star Collector". On the surface, a sly song about a groupie. Until Micky Dolenz starts repeating in the background during the fade-out (in a creepy-weird, high-pitched monotone) "bye bye! bye bye! bye bye!" Funny comedic boy-band, my ass.
  • Gwen Stefani: The outro to "Yummy" (starting at 3:40 in this video. The rest of the song is unsettling enough, but the ominous drums kick in, then the tuba and organ... sounds like a fucking demonic circus.
  • Helen Reddy's "Angie Baby". A strange girl with a radio. A peeping Tom. It does not end well for the peeping Tom.
  • Rihanna: "Disturbia." Just your typical catchy, dancey pop son, right? Well... here's a snippet of the lyrics:
    "It's a thief in the night to come and grab you
    It can creep up inside you and consume you
    A disease of the mind it can control you
    It's too close for comfort..."
    • Let's not forget that the song opens up with Rihanna screaming and the fact that low, ominous voices can be heard singing along with her during the "bum-bum-bee-dum" parts.
    • Hell, the music video is pretty creepy too. It features such nice things as Rihanna humping a mannequin, stuck in a thin corridor with her arms through the wall and spiders crawling all over her, tied to a chair in a room with a very low ceiling, and the fact that she stares right at the camera as she's wearing pale blue contact lenses that make her look like she's blind while shaking her had around with distorted jump cuts.
  • Skylar Grey's "Final Warning". The song is already creepy, featuring lyrics about a very abusive relationship set to upbeat hip-hop beats (and one can take Grey's "Someone's gonna get hurt, la la la la, la la la la..." line as a sign of Sanity Slippage), but then comes the bridge, where listeners are treated to the pleasant background sounds of a woman and man screaming, hurting each other and breaking stuff, followed by the woman maniacally laughing, a gun cocking sound, and a loud gunshot.

    Progressive 
  • 10cc: "I'm Not In Love". The whole song is incredibly somber as it is, but the instrumental part in the middle that has a female voice whispering "Be quiet, big boys don't cry." over and over again, can make one lose a lot of sleep after hearing it.
  • Laurie Anderson: She has some music that can qualify, much of it on her live album Home of the Brave. Most notably nightmarish are "Late Show", based on an unsettling sample of William S. Burroughs' voice, as well as the album's rendition of "Sharkey's Night." Anderson uses her "big voice" (electronically pitched down) for this and it ends with a sound horrifyingly like some kind of alarm to warn people of an impending nuclear holocaust.
    • “O Superman” is arguably one of the most unsettling songs ever recorded. With or without the music video.
  • Arena: "The Butterfly Man", while mysterious and ominous in its instrumentation, is told from the perspective of a man who has been kidnapped by a cosmic being dubbed "The Butterfly Man" who keeps souls/beings and has a collection of them. The worst part isn't that the victims (or "trophies") are aware/immortal, that they themselves allowed the Butterfly Man to kidnap them/went directly to the Butterfly Man for one reason or another, implied to be desire or greed.
  • Blue Öyster Cult:
    • If you hear them, many of their songs sound happy and upbeat. But if you listen listen to the lyrics... here's an example. In the background of "Harvester of Eyes" during the solo you can hear some stuttering, but it's really hard to make out what it says:
      I'm the harvester of eyes
      I'm just walkin' down the street
      I see a garbage can, I pick it up
      I look through all the garbage
      To see if there are any eyes inside
      I'll put 'em in my pink leather bag
      And take all their eye balls
      And I bleed with 'em
      As I plead with their eyes all night
      So if you see me walkin' down the street
      You'd better get out of the way
      And put on your eye glasses
      'cause I'm gonna take your eyes home with me...
    • Joan Crawford. Mother's home, indeed!
  • Comus: First Utterance. The music often sounds very malevolent for being largely acoustic and folk-influenced. The lyrics of two different songs deal with murder and rape, with a third that heavily implies rape but has no murder elements. Other lyrical concerns include a hanging and being put in a Bedlam House. Even "The Herald", which is about daylight coming and making everything peaceful again, is still pretty eerie sounding thanks to its prominent use of theremin.
  • Devil Doll: The original avant garde band, not the rockabilly one. Creepy piano music set to the paranoid gibberings of a madman obsessing about something following him through an empty house, subliminal messages, and terrifying descriptions of the apocalypse, just to name a few of the themes the band deals with. And just to make it better, most of their songs go for about an hour or so. That Mr. Doctor sure is a deranged man.
  • Lawrence Gowan: "A Criminal Mind". The narrator is an unrepentant criminal who pretty much prides himself on what he's done, but he never actually says what he's done, leaving it for you to guess. The real horror is in lines like these:" I've spent my life behind these steel bars/I've served my debt in time, but being brought to justice/THAT was my only crime", "These prison walls secure me/and I'm numb to pain." Prison hasn't done anything to reform him—-it's made him even worse.

    The gentle piano music at the beginning could qualify on its own; there's almost a Silence of the Lambs thing going with Gowan singing about "They tried to reform me/but I'm made of cold stone" while playing that really brings it home. In each chorus of the song, he tells the listener "Ask one who's known me/if I'm really so bad" followed by a menacing whisper of "I AM." Even worse, the final bit: "Some people struggle daily/They struggle with their consciensce 'til the end, I have no guilt to haunt me/I feel no wrong intent" As the song fades out, Gowan begins echoing the "Made of cold stone" line, and at one point, he literally screams "JUST LIKE YOUR PRISON WALLS!" After the first chorus, Gowan goes from singing softly to an almost harsh-sounding voice—-just listen to the earlier line starting with "I've spent my life behind these steel bars", and you can hear equal traces of hatred, pride and something else in his tone as he continues. There's something about the synth riff on this song (the one between the second chorus and the final verse) that's "haunting". Take that in whatever way you will. The synth-drums that kick in after the first chorus sound a bit like gavels. During the line "I'd like to say a few words/here in my own defense", there's this weird synth-like sound in the background.

    One final note: This is the only track on Strange Animal that isn't a happy, pop-radio-sounding song; everything from "Cosmetics" to the title track (and even songs like "Desperate", "Keep the Tension On" and "Guerilla Soldier") is upbeat, catchy and very easy to sing along to...but "A Criminal Mind," the last track, will stick with you long after you've heard it.
  • Kayo Dot:
    • They feature some of the most obtuse lyrics of any band ever. Try the line "In the hallway outside my bedroom door, I heard the old dead sleigh gliding to its restful drones, purposely knocking the pictures off their nails. With a vacancy ogling my sober inhalation, our curator's rocking to the rhythm of the rain on her carved hair here in this room, with the inverted torches at its barrier, where materia vibrated out" for confusing and disturbing imagery.
    • As for the musical aspects. Some of the songs on Choirs of the Eye could probably induce nightmares even if they didn't have any lyrics. The band's first two albums arguably contain some of the heaviest, most dissonant passages ever recorded.
  • Magma, when they aren't a source of Narm can definitely be the soundtrack of your worst nightmare. "Mûh," the last track of their debut album, tells the story of the Kobaians unleashing their most devastating weapon on the Earth, complete with horrific, agonized screams. And it's all sung in an invented language for added creepiness.
  • The Mars Volta:
    • "El Ciervo Vulnerado" takes the cake, along with "Eunuch Provocateur" which contains two instances of backmasking: First, a distorted voice singing Itsy-Bitsy Spider, and then the voice of a Creepy Child saying "Mommy or Daddy ever had to spank you?".
    • Another terrifying case is "Cassandra Gemini Part VII" which, when listened to at full volume with headphones on in your bed with the lights off, detached from the rest of the song cycle, just makes you think that someone's coming up to you and is going to kill you as you lie there.
    • Learning the story behind Deloused at the Comatorium makes the entire album nightmare fuel.
  • Sleepytime Gorilla Museum:
    • Particularly disturbing are "The Creature" in which someone licks his lips in the background for most of the song, and "Sleepytime (Spirit is a Bone)" in which the lead singer creakily sings "Sleepytime" repeatedly followed by a haunting interlude.
    • Although nearly all of their songs are creepy to an extent, many on their album Of Natural History go far beyond the normal interpretation of terrifying. The use of atonality, harsh vocals, and custom instruments are quite effective in painting a picture of anti-humanism and violent horror. Not to mention the lyrics to songs such as this.
  • Slint: Spiderland is a post-rock example, which includes "Don, Aman" (Don stepped outside.) and "Good Morning, Captain" (I MISS YOU!), two songs that can ruin any night's sleep. It's worth noting that the creation of this album apparently drove at least one of the band members to Creator Breakdowns to the point where he had to be institutionalized, and they had shown no signs of mental instability before making the album. The material here is dark enough that it's not difficult to see why.
  • Univers Zero: The Heresie album qualifies as some of the creepiest music ever. After Heresie, their music got somewhat lighter in tone.
  • Van der Graaf Generator:
    • Their 1971 album masterpiece, Pawn Hearts, is possibly their best example. These (shouted) lyrics from "Man-Erg" just about sum it up:
      "HOW CAN I BE FREE? HOW CAN I GET HELP?
      AM I REALLY FREE, OR AM I SOMEONE ELSE??"
    • Or how about "Pioneers Over C" from H to He, Who Am the Only One? An uplifting and stirring tale of brave astronauts.
      Doomed to vanish in the flickering light,
      Disappearing to a darker night,
      Doomed to vanish in a living death, living anti-matter, anti-breath
    • There's also these lovely lyrics from "Lemmings":
    Cogs tearing bones, cogs tearing bones
    Iron-throated monsters are forcing the screams
    Mind and machinery box-press the dreams.
  • Steven Wilson: "Only Child" certainly qualifies, with lyrics like "A raven holding to narrow wrist/Pull it tight/Clothes are torn and the body twists/A single light" "An only child/A winning smile/A killing trial." The song seems to be about a child who gets away with (brutally?) murdering a sibling.
    • Some of The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories) qualifies as this, especially seeing as each song is a ghost story in musical form. One of these songs is "Holy Drinker", about a pious man who, in his arrogance, challenges the Devil to a drinking competition. He loses. And is sent straight to Hell. This song in particular has a creepy, unsettling feel to it, not to mention the Jump Scare near the end where a synth noise comes out of nowhere.
  • Patrick Wolf: "The Childcatcher". Insanely creepy, and has a completely terrifying sound punctuating the song.
  • Jeff Waynes Musical Versionof The Warofthe Worlds: This is not a record to listen to just before sleeping. Even the album cover and additional artwork inside is enough to frighten anyone and not even most Death Metal album covers are as horrifying as this.
    • The bassline for "Horsell Common and the Heat Ray" is a recurring theme for the album and hardly makes a leave in the song. On top of that, the noises to portray the Tripods will make a stand against your ears.
  • Listen to this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bur7xRt_C0 ...Yes, that is a man's voice.

    Punk 
  • While technically more Post-punk / New-Wave than regular punk, an obscure 80s band called "The Names" recorded an eerie song called "Nightshift", which, coupled with the Music Video, is extremely creepy. The singer delivers the lyrics in a deadpan, dissonant manner, and the music video itself was filmed in a dimly lit room with the band playing, coupled with unsettling shots of an apartment building with clips of the Lead Singer just staring straight into the camera, soullessly.
  • At The Drive-In: Their songs are cryptic and not easily understood, but some qualify regardless of whether one understands the lyrics or not. "Enfilade" is a perfect example, especially with the chilling ransom call opening. "Invalid Litter Dept." is similarly haunting, especially since it's about a series of migrant worker murders in the band's hometown of El Paso, Texas.
  • Big Black: Every single song by them.
  • Crass: "Nagasaki Nightmare" stands out. With its screamed lyrics and Madness Mantras about the atomic bombings in Japan and a freakish instrumental that can only be described as a mixture between Noise Rock, Free Jazz and Japanese folk.
  • Danzig: The Misfits and Samhain, both fronted by Glen Danzig, often have quite disturbing lyrics.
  • The Dead Kennedys gave us some rather chilling songs.
    • On their album Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables:
      • "Holiday in Cambodia" starts out with a bizarre, eerie guitar riff, then segues into a dark, raging song with Jello Biafra singing in a wild, unhinged voice about the brutal and all-too-real horror of Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge. And then begins the Madness Mantra of "Pol Pot!" which is even worse if you know anything about the guy.
      • "Chemical Warfare" features lyrics about an anarchist releasing mustard gas onto a country club. Towards the end of the song we get to hear the lovely sounds of rich people gagging and choking to death while screaming in terror.
    • Perhaps their darkest song is "The Prey," sung from the viewpoint of an Ax-Crazy stalker. Musically, it abandons their usual punk style in favor of one of the most bone chilling instrumentals in rock music.
  • Die Ärzte: The uncensored version of their music video for Junge, in which several people are messily consumed by zombies. Eventually the band has to fight off the zombies with anything at hand - guitars, beer cans, crossbows - before a mass of zombies drag the lead singer down and then graphically eat his intestines.
  • The Fall's "Disney's Dream Debased": Musically it's one of their more sedate songs, but it becomes haunting when you learn it's about a gruesome fatal accident that occurred on the Matterhorn at Disneyland... And two members of the band, Mark E. Smith and Brix Smith, had just been on the ride themselves ten minutes earlier.
  • The Jim Carroll Band: "People Who Died," is this and Tear Jerker, as Jim graphically describes various people in his life who died in gruesome and tragic ways and essentially laments on their passings.
  • The Leather Nun: The Slow Death EP contains the heartwarming song "Slow Death", which intones over and over "90 percent burns, 55 hours to live" with some really horrific noise droning behind it. Considering that the live version of the song guest stars Genesis P-Orridge (of "Hamburger Lady" fame) and Monte Cazazza, its inclusion here fits perfectly.
  • Liars:
    • "Broken Witch". The most bone-scrapingly unnerving song since "Revolution 9." We are the army you see through the red haze of blood...blood...blood...blood...blood....
    • "This Dirt Makes That Mud" from They Threw Us All In A Trench And Stuck A Monument On Top is even worse. It starts fairly disturbing, as all Liars songs do, but then it locks into a pattern, and all sounds fade out but this creepy riff and a steady, never changing drum beat. And it goes on. And on, and on, and on. You start to get annoyed. Then you filter it out and ignore it. Then you think you hear something that wasn't there before. For almost thirty minutes. The 30 minute version from the CD is just to give you a taste of the true horror the vinyl release, which ends in a locked groove, meaning it will continue to play forever, slowly erasing itself from existence. Or, you know, until you remember to turn it off.
  • The Offspring:
    • "Hammerhead." The video is even worse.
    • "Beheaded" is about as prosaic as it gets for a Murder Ballad, in that there's no allegory or depth of meaning to the lyrics; it's about a guy who just likes chopping off people's heads, apparently gets a sexual thrill from it, and he wants the one on the listener's shoulders next. Sleep tight, kids!
  • Orchid: An extreme punk(-ish) band from circa 2000, played music that literally sounds like nightmares. Take a listen.
  • Pere Ubu: "Sentimental Journey". Most of The Modern Dance is creepy, thanks to the mix of distorted punk, but this song in particular takes the cake. It's just a squeaky old synthesizer and plucked bassline, overdubbed with shattering glass, audio feedback, metallic banging and scraping, and David Thomas muttering and moaning some of the strangest lyrics ever. Listen at night, and you'll become convinced there's a drunken vandal outisde your door.
  • The Ramones: "Teenage Lobotomy". First, there's the whole lobotomy thing, which may or may not have been caused by exposure to massive amounts of the pesticide DDT, or may have been used to control symptoms of the DDT poisoning. Then there's the implications that he's trapped in his own mind and that there's something frightening in there with him.
  • Reel Big Fish: They usualy makes upbeat and fun Ska-Punk songs. Then there's "You're Gonna Die," a hidden track on ''We're Not Happy 'Til You're Not Happy." Loud distortions, screaming, backmasking, it's all there. Sweet dreams...

    Rap/Hip-Hop 
  • Alias: "Slow Motion People". That distorted old song at the start is only the tip of the iceberg. "To looooove or not to love you. To feel agaaaain that thing called paaaaain".
  • Angel Haze:Cleanin' Out My Closet. A disturbing track about how at 7 years old, she was raped, repeatably.
  • Cage: "Ballad of Worms". The story of the gradual decline of his high school sweetheart due to terminal illness and the grief it causes him in the process. It's a constant contrast between the obvious love he still has for her and the ways her suffering compromises any joy that's worth. The final gut punch comes when her very last act is to try and kiss him. She fails.
    • "Among the Sleep" is a vivid nightmare diary. He's stuck in a stack of horrific scenarios, waking up from each one, increasingly unable to be sure if he's awake or asleep to the point where he'd sooner kill himself than not know for sure.
  • David Banner: "Play" might have an instrumental that's purely awesome, but his lyrics make the rapper look like a fucking serial rapist (whispering all of the lyrics, no less). Listen to the track, and you'll see how such depravity can be so terrifying.
  • Danny Brown: A lot of songs on his album XXX qualify. "Die Like A Rockstar" has him referencing lots of famous musicians and actors who have died because of drug and alcohol abuse while he draws eerie comparisons to his own lifestyle; "Detroit 187" is about how incredibly messed up his hometown is; "Blunt After Blunt" has a beat made of horrible inhaling noises and an abnormally deep piano while he raps about horrific amounts of pot; "DNA" is a somber track about how his family uses lots of drugs, which spurs him to abuse them; "Party All The Time" is about a college student who drops out and ends up a serious drug addict who becomes a prostitute to fund her habit; and "Scrap Or Die" is about drug addicts living in poverty who strip abandoned schools and old buildings of materials to sell for more drugs. And every other song has references to these kinds of horrors. And this is a 19 track album. That lasts close to an hour. Add in that Danny Brown is just now breaking through at age 30, is missing his two front teeth, and makes very casual references to his actual drug abuse (flaunting ecstasy in interviews, mentioning that he spent time in prison for possession with intent to distribute, etc.) and XXX is basically a very disturbing autobiography. Believe it or not, the title of the album doesn't reference its graphic nature; it references that Brown is 30 years old.
    • Old, while not quite as dark as XXX, still has plenty of incredibly bleak fare. "Torture", in particular, is one of the darkest songs that he has ever made. Its lyrics describe post-traumatic stress disorder, which owed to the stuff he saw growing up. These include, but aren't limited to: a crime lord feeding a debtor to his pitbulls crotch-first, strangers getting assaulted with deadly weapons in the street, and his crack-addict uncle coming very close to frying his own face partway off. Danny mentions having to go to bed baked off his ass just so the flashbacks don't keep him from sleeping.
    • Almost all of Atrocity Exhibition, given that it's a concept record about Danny's drug habits and paranoia. Even the more energetic and "party" songs have an edge of darkness to them. Highlights include the terrifyingly bouncy "Ain't It Funny" and the frantic "When It Rain" (which may sound at first listen like it's about partying, but the "rain" in question refers to bullets from gang shootings). Danny's high-pitched psycho-babble delivery doesn't help.
      • Thankfully there's some Nightmare Retardant energy to break it up, like "Really Doe" and "Pneumonia".
  • CLOUDDEAD: The vast majority of their discography counts, but their first (self-titled) album is like a trainride through the mind of David Lynch.
  • Cunninlynguists: "Falling Down" arguably descends into Narm around the second time a character has a Freak Out, but the very first one feels like something that could happen in real life. One man, stuck in traffic, having a bad day on a bad month in a bad year—and he happens to have a gun in the back of his car, and another driver has just pissed him off.
  • DMX: "The Omen" featuring (believe it or not) Marilyn Manson, from the Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood album. It starts out with a woman sobbing over a dying man in a hospital, with the beep of a life support machine in the background. Then this deep ominous voice comes in: "Hmmm � what's this?" The rest is constructed as a dialogue between a violent thug and a loathsome character who's urging him on to increasingly brutal acts. Both are voiced by DMX (Manson does the chorus), but latter is done in this pinched, weasel-y tone that's just so damn weird and unhinged.
  • "Peanut" by Earl Sweatshirt, a song about the death of his father set to an extremely slowed down and distorted instrumental.
  • Quite possibly one of the most famous examples in all of rap: the Geto Boys' "Mind Playing Tricks on Me," a haunting examination of what it's like to go insane.
    At night I can't sleep, I toss and turn
    Candlesticks in the dark, visions of bodies being burned
    Four walls just staring at a nigga
    I'm paranoid, sleeping with my finger on the trigger.
    • Bushwick Bill's verse is even darker. It's Halloween, he and the other Geto Boys are stealing kids' candy, when they run into a cop. They attack him, but he just won't go down...
      The more I swung, the more blood flew — then he disappeared, and my boys disappeared too
      Then I felt just like a fiend
      It wasn't even close to Halloween
      It was dark as fuck on the streets — my hands were all bloody from punchin' on the concrete
      God damn, homie!
      My mind is playin' tricks on me
    • This song was the direct inspiration for clipping.'s most recent album Visions of Bodies Being Burned, even being directly sampled in their song "Say the Name". It, along with their previous album There Existed An Addiction To Blood, takes horrorcore hip-hop to a new level, with Daveed Diggs rapping about implacable police squads closing in on black neighborhoods, drug trips revealing Lovecraftian gods, classic monsters like vampires and werewolves, and horrific murder scenes, all over Jonathan Snipes and William Hutson's atmospheric horror movie-industrial beats.
  • Immortal Technique: "Dance With the Devil." A song about a boy who grows up to become a drug dealer and criminal and ends with him unknowingly raping and killing his own mother. He subsequently kills himself.
  • Insane Clown Posse: The album Hell's Pit.
  • Lecrae: "Falling Down". The song itself is not creepy. What's terrifying is that at the beginning of the third verse you can hear someone in the background laughing maniacally.
  • Mos Def: Almost unanimously known as conscious rapper, made "Murder Of A Teenage Life", a song detailing the death of child gunned down and dying in his mother's arm. Though the lyrical content could be possibly classified as a Tear Jerker, the beat, made by The Neptunes, who also produced Britney Spears' "Slave 4 U" mind you, is pure, unadulterated terror, complete with sampled blood-chortling screams and distorted hollow singing by Mos Def.
  • Proof: "Kurt Kobain", a song about Proof reflecting on his life written in a suicide note. It takes a different approach at the end of the song when he inevitably shoots himself, mixed in with a disembodied but repetitive sound with him clearly whispering "Love...killed...me..." Even more haunting at the fact he was killed 8 months later.
  • Swollen Members's "Bad Dreams" is quite possibly one of the scariest rap songs ever made. The beat itself is already incredibly creepy with horror film-esque pianos and occasional thunderclaps, but the lyrics... Dear God, the lyrics. It ain't no horrorcore, but they're still extremely creepy, explaining various nightmares in bloodcurling detail.

    Steampunk 
  • The Clockwork Quartet: The song "The Doctor's Wife." It combines an Apocalyptic Log, a Fate Worse than Death, and a man who can't let go of his love. Appreciate the horror by listening to their song, which is free for download or streaming here.
  • Voltaire:
    • On his first album, The Devil's Bris, when he's not being funny he often gets seriously disturbing. The album opens with a song about a jealous ex-lover fantasizing about chopping his ex's new boyfriend into bits and mailing the bits across the globe.
    • Another song is from the point of view of a paranoid schizophrenic who was molested as a child, having kidnapped a girl he intends to eventually murder.
    • "That Man Upstairs" isn't that scary on its own, but the chorus of "Please kill that man upstairs" is an ear worm. This can be highly unnerving if you're trying to sleep and your bedroom is one floor down from that of your father, boyfriend, or some other man you care about.
    • "When You're Evil". As awesome he is, the narrator sings about doing nasty and petty things purely For the Evulz. Near the end of the song seems like he feels bad at being evil...before immediately claiming he was just lying and messing with you. The creepy violin in the background doesn't help.

    Traditional 
  • Bulgarian Folk Music: "Delio Haidutin" was used on the Voyager but is scary. Not really the instruments, which are simply odd and foreign, but that terrifying voice...
  • Malicorne's rendition of the old murder ballad "Le petit écolier" manages to be effectively shocking.
  • "Long Lankin", an old folk song. Especially the Steeleye Span recording of it. Martin Carthy's a capella recording is even more unsettling.
  • There is an old Spanish ballad named "Penelope" that can be absolutely terrifying. It is about a beautiful young woman who, after her beloved left to war, froze in that moment, waited for him for years, and forgot that she and he would age accordingly. When he finally comes back, she's waiting at the train station, but denies that he is her fiance because he is much to old to be him.
  • "Tsintskaro", a Georgian traditional choral piece sounds downright haunting. The lyrics are perfectly innocuous; a man meets a woman at a spring and says something that offends her, but the fact that the lyrics are so vague just adds another layer of creepiness.
  • The children's lullaby "Rockabye Baby" has rather disturbing lyrics if you study them closely. I mean, a song about a baby in a cradle stuck up in a tree, crashing down? How is that supposed to make your child have a nice dream?
    "Rock-a-bye baby, on the treetop,"
    "When the wind blows, the cradle will rock,"
    "When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall,"
    "And down will come baby, cradle and all."
  • "The Well Below the Valley" starts out with a passerby asking a young woman for water at the well, and turns into a tale of incest and infanticide.
  • "Twa Corbies" is about two ravens ('Corbies' in Scots) discussing what to eat, and they decide on a 'new-slain knight', whose eyes they'll peck out and whose hair they'll build a nest with. No one will care, because only his hawk, his hound, and his wife know where he is, and they've all gone away with others.
  • "Little Sir Hugh". Watch out for what happens if you lose a football in a neighbor's yard. This kid was cosseted and entertained by a "lady gay all dressed in green", until she butchers him and throws his body into a nearby well. This Child ballad was Ripped from the Headlines — it's the story of Little St. Hugh of Lincoln, who really was found dead in a well. As was often the case with unsolved child murders at that time, Jews were blamed in a practice known as blood libel.
  • "Go Tell Aunt Rhody," isn't exactly terrifying in its original incarnation, but the depressing subject matter (a mama goose died, leaving its gander and goslings despondent) and minor key makes it sound awfully bleak, no matter how cheery the performer tries to go with it. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard milks this for all it's worth by adding even darker lyrics tied to the plot and making the tune downright sinister.

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